Posted on March 22, 2016

Goals are great. They provide us a way of knowing if we are succeeding or not. The most influential people in the world set them and use them. However, the vast majority of our goals – even if we achieve them – often leave us feeling like we are still coming up short.

Don’t believe me? Name one goal you set for yourself (knowingly or unknowingly) that once you accomplished it you became fully satisfied without a need for “more.”  Maybe it’s a job that you obtained that you thought would be the end all be all, a relationship or a certain status or position within your circle of influence.

Frustrated by our goals

On the other side, there are people who have set goals who cannot find contentment within themselves because they still have not accomplished or acquired their goal. As Neil Anderson points out, anger often signals a blocked goal, anxiety signals an uncertain goal and depression signals an impossible goal.

As an executive coach I love helping people establish their goals. Until we establish effective goals our goals control us and we remain stuck between our current results and the potential within us.

An alternative

I often propose clients establish a primary goal of personal growth. Why? because you can set all types of goals, achieve some of them, and at the end of the day you may or may not have grown personally, positively. Also, this goal is clear, doable and cannot be blocked. We always have control over how we respond to our circumstances – a major component of growth.

Additionally, If growth is your focus and you establish a process of taking steps to grow daily, you will quickly become the type of the person who is able to accomplish the very types of goals you desire.

How so?

What does this look like practically? It looks not getting the business and deal and instead of focusing on what you are missing out on thinking to yourself “this a great opportunity for me to grow my character and resolve in how I respond to disappointment.” Often, this type of thinking happens but only because we didn’t get what we really wanted – as if growth is the consolation prize. It also looks like not allowing myself to be consumed/controlled by the desires I have for “more”. If my primary goal is growth I can be authentically excited by a daily opportunity to achieve my goal, even in the face of uncertainty. After all, to quote my mentor John C. Maxwell, “sometimes we win and sometimes we learn.”

Improving relational impact

Prioritizing the goal of growth can also improve our professional and personal relationships.

Frequently, the people around us seemingly block our goals. We have goals for how we want our coworkers to think and approach circumstances. We have goals for how we think our spouse or family members should respond to us.

Again, if my goal is growth I can now look at these instances as opportunities to grow personally. I can be excited that every one of these occurrences is an opportunity for me grow in my ability to respond to others more effectively.

After all, I cannot control the people around me, I can only control how I respond to the people around me. Understanding this takes significant weight off our shoulders.

When I make the mental shift from needing to be in control of the outcomes related the people around me to a focus on personal growth, I am now free to succeed in reaching my goal because I actually do have the ability to improve the effectiveness of how I treat others. It’s “wins” all around.

What are your goals? How are they serving you?

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